February 16 – Devotion Sharing (Luke 11)

Submitted by Dora W. from Gracepoint Riverside

Luke 11:33-36
Since being filled with darkness or light is dependent on our eyes (v.33), what determines the good or bad condition of our eyesight (perception)?
What determines the good or bad condition of our eyesight really comes down to the state of my heart and how aligned it is to God’s word. Throughout my walk with God I have seen the times where I was filled with darkness, when I was full of guilt, shame, pride and insecurity. The truth of the gospel was far from me. These were times when I was trying to deny the truth that I am a sinner and I looked at everything with a perspective of bitterness, cynicism, and lovelessness. And when my eyesight is bad, these were times where I was looking at my life and the world around me through my own warped and self-focused understanding. It’s a pretty vicious cycle.

These were times where I was not turning to God’s word to be my source of light. When my heart is agreement with what the gospel says about me and I am aware of the amazing love and mercy God has bestowed on me, I am able to see the world through the lens of truth. I can see that though I may be going through a particular struggle, I can still count all the ways I have been blessed. I can see that though there may be some difficulties in living a Christian life, there are so many other joys and richness that I can look to and admit that things didn’t have to be this way.

Luke 11:37-44
Jesus rebukes the Pharisees with very harsh words. What is it about the Pharisees that Jesus found repugnant?
The Pharisees are shocked that Jesus does not ceremonially clean himself before the meal. What Jesus finds so repugnant about the Pharisees is that they are so focused on the externals of a person and yet are so blind to what is going on the inside. Throughout this entire chapter, we see the Pharisees testing Jesus and criticizing him. However they never once stopped to consider what’s really going on inside of their own hearts. most disturbing thing is this huge discrepancy between the kind of person they want to appear before others as and the wicked, sinful, self-seeking people they are inside.

What aspects of the Pharisees do I find in myself?
One aspect of the Pharisees that I find in myself is when I end up focusing a lot more about how I appear to others and neglect the state of my own heart. I am a person full of insecurity and I often wonder about how those around me perceive me. When I get into these modes of being so people-conscious, I neglect honest self-reflection. I don’t struggle to dig deep to see what is really going on in there, because the reality is that I know I’m not going to like what I find. While I may be running around doing many things in the name of God, on the inside my heart can be far from God. One way this can manifest itself is when I want to appear as someone who is sacrificial with her time, but on the inside I cling onto my time as my own to rest or rather to indulge in laziness. Another way is when I want to appear as someone who loves others but at the same time I find myself holding back on completely loving people out of fear of being hurt and rejected. Like the Pharisees I end up caring a lot more about protecting and promoting myself than I do about those in need around me.

I want to be thought of by others as loving, sacrificial, mature, but the reality is that these things only come out as a result of how much I have internalized what the bible says about me as my truth. It is only in light of who I am and who God that I am humbled and there is room in my life for these qualities to grow. However, when this truth gets blurred or looses its sweetness—that is when this pharisaic discrepancy begins to widen. It is during these times that I really need to stop and confront the discrepancy between the me I am trying to present to others to gain their approval and the real me that is full of self-focus, selfishness, fears and insecurity. I need to go back to that first love when the wicked person I am inside was so clear and there was no pretense in terms of who I was before God and others.

Luke 11:39-41
What issue does Jesus address by asking, “Did not the one who made the outside make the inside also?”
While the biggest issue that Pharisees were focused on was how they appeared on the outside, the issue that Jesus is addressing is greed and wickedness that is inside the hearts of Pharisees. They cared more about how they appeared to others than what their greed was doing to the poor in their lives.

What are things that God cares about that I am ignoring?
As I I get older I become more aware of all the things that God cares about that I end up ignoring when I focus more on myself and on my appearance before others. One way I see this is when in conversations, I am focused on reading into the signs of how much a person is feeling warm towards me than actually listening to everything she is saying to me. I know there are many ways I can pick up on the burdens and concerns of others by really listening to them. But when I am wrapped up in how liked I am, my attention goes to myself.

On a greater scale, when I am focused more on how I appear before others and my mind is full of these self-centered thoughts, there is much less room to think about the people and concerns going on around me. Just last week at prayer meeting, we prayed for the people who are suffering because of the loss of a loved on or a disease in the family. These were concerns that I have known about, but how often do I find myself thinking about these people and praying for them outside of prayer meeting? When I take an honest look at myself, I know that my daily thoughts often center on myself. In doing so I miss out on a chance to help share their burdens, to pray for and encourage them.

And as I focus on myself, I also ignore what God ultimately wants to do to me. He doesn’t want me to look like a person that has life all together before other people. He wants to grow me into a person of love—a person who express concern, cry out in prayer, and be sacrificial. This is what God cares about when it comes to my life—the inside and not the out.

Luke 11:52
Why couldn’t the Pharisees and teachers of the law accept Jesus’ rightful criticism about their hypocrisy, even though they were highly religious people?
It was ultimately because they were proud. Though they were highly religious people, their religiousness wasn’t driven by a love of God, but rather out of a desire to show how great they were to the world. They didn’t want to admit to themselves and others that they have been wrong.

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Submitted by Michelle Y. from Gracepoint Riverside
• Lamp, good eyes, bad eyes
Our eyes are the lamp of our body and depending on what our eyes are focused on, we are either filled with light or darkness. For example, if we choose to be saturated with media all day long, then our eyes will be filled with all the wrong images, and we would be fed all the wrong messages of this world. There will be darkness in our body because we will buy into lies such as that our value and worth is dependent on our appearance and looks, that a reckless life without any commitments is most freeing life, that sexual promiscuity and the hook up culture is the norm, etc. When our mind is filled with all these lies, there is no room for the Word of God, and there is no hope for us to respond to God’s promptings. On the other hand, if we have good eyes that take in the Word of God and choose to meditate on it, we have bodies full of light that can respond to God and his teachings.

I have experienced this truth of good eyes vs. bad eyes in my own lives. There are times when my eyes are bad, and I can zoom in on all the things that I lack and don’t have in life. I can complain about being too busy and having too many things to do, lacking sleep, not having a job, not being appreciated by others, grumbling about difficulties in life, etc. When my eyes are bad like this, I am filled with darkness, and I am quick to complain and grow bitter and resentful about this Christian life that God has given me. I lose a sense of joy and gratitude in doing ministry and everything becomes drudgery. The Word of God has no place in my life during times like this, and I start growing easily irritated and annoyed with people around me. However, when my eyes are good, and I can have that proper perspective that I am undeserving of all the good blessings that I do have in life–my salvation, eternal life, this church and the fellowship I experience with other believers, the fact that I can run this race with like minded peers and leaders, the privilege to do ministry here at UCR—then there is light in me again. I can respond to the Word of God and hear God speak to me, I can experience fellowship with others again and there is a sense of joy and happiness in doing ministry.

Our eyes then are very powerful and what we choose to focus on has a direct impact on whether we will be filled with light or darkness. With media being so prevalent in today’s society, I have to be very careful what my eyes take in and focus on. Also, I need to always have an accurate perception of reality and not just look at it through the lens of what I lack, but instead be able to see all the things that I do have so that I can give proper thanks and gratitude to God.

• Outside, inside
The Pharisees were experts of the law who were so focused on just keeping the law that they entirely missed the heart of God. They criticize Jesus for not washing his hands before eating and are so concerned with the exterior and appearing clean and righteous to others. Jesus, however, rebukes them and tells them it is not the outside that makes them unclean, but rather what comes out of their hearts. Mark 7:21-23 reads, 21 For from within, out of men’s hearts, come evil thoughts, sexual immorality, theft, murder, adultery, 22 greed, malice, deceit, lewdness, envy, slander, arrogance and folly. 23 All these evils come from inside and make a man ‘unclean.’ ” The Pharisees entirely missed this point and were just consumed with keeping their outside clean so that they could impress others, but they completely ignored the evil desires of their hearts which is what God really looks at.

This is a warning for me because I need to be careful to not get consumed by just the exterior and doing all the right things. From the outside, I can appear to be very righteous and clean because so much of my life centers around godly activities. However, I can’t fool myself and need to always look at what is going on in my heart and deal with all the ugly sins there. I need to go through work of daily searching my heart and confessing sins of selfishness, laziness, failure to love or care for someone, pride, ingratitude, irritation, being judgmental towards others etc. I confess that at times I can find myself being like these Pharisees and just focus on my exterior and not deal with the reality of my sins that others don’t see. However, it is during these times that I find myself far from God and then things become like mere tasks. I am thankful for prayer meetings when I have that time to reflect and confess the ugly sins of my heart and make things right with God again. And, as I go through the process of confessing the shameful and ugly truths about myself, I can reconnect with God again and experience that closeness and dependency on Him as I experience his forgiveness and restoration. Especially as I get older, I want to commit to keep going through hard work of dealing with what is going on inside of my heart because only in this truth I find the greatest joy and freedom.

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